SJ's Heart Story

Ziarra Estrada was at a routine prenatal ultrasound when she learned something was wrong with her baby’s heart.

She was referred to Driscoll Children’s Maternal Fetal Medicine, which specializes in the detection, evaluation and management of fetal conditions prior to a baby’s birth.

Driscoll’s Maternal Fetal Medicine specialists worked hand-in-hand with Driscoll Children’s Heart Center’s pediatric cardiologists and surgeons to determine a plan for Ziarra and her baby after birth.

Ziarra gave birth to SJ on October 29, 2020 and the following day, he was transported to Driscoll Children’s Hospital.

When SJ was 5 days old, he had open heart surgery at Driscoll Children’s Heart Center to repair his coarctation of the aorta. In babies with this condition, a section of the aorta – the main artery that carries blood to the rest of the body – is too narrow, restricting blood supply. The surgery was successful, and SJ was discharged when he was 12 days old.

SJ as a baby, he is hooked up to dozens of tubes and monitors all over his little body.

“Everyone was so nice,” said Ziarra. “My family couldn’t be there because of Covid, but the staff made us feel comfortable and treated us like family. I don’t know that he would be the healthy boy he is today without Driscoll.”

SJ is now an active 1-year-old who has just learned to walk and is on the move. While he hasn’t had any complications since his surgery, SJ continues to be monitored by Driscoll’s Heart Team.

“He grabs everyone’s attention. He is so loving and just a ball of happiness,” said Ziarra.

Ziarra is thankful for Driscoll Children’s Hospital and has turned into an advocate for congenital heart defects (CHD). She raises awareness through social media, participates in congenital heart walks, and hosts toy collections for patient and families in Driscoll’s Pediatric and Cardiac Intensive Care Units.

“I didn’t know anything about CHD prior to this, so I want to continue raising awareness and giving back how I can,” said Ziarra.

Learn more about Driscoll Children’s Heart Center.

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